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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Croatian church split

Its longtime bishop is accused of financial impropriety

The Evangelical [Lutheran] Church in Croatia now has two competing synods. The new body, led by Marijan Sporcic, protests the conduct of longtime leader Vlado Deutsch. Sporcic was nominated to head the dissident group at a Feb. 24 meeting attended by 18 of a possible 30 delegates from seven of the church's 11 congregations. The two congregations most loyal to Deutsch are split. Except for his son, Matija, no active Lutheran pastor supports Deutsch. Two conclusions appear relatively clear:

1. Deutsch's leadership has been largely unconstitutional. Deutsch contends that he had to begin his work from scratch when he took over leadership from Edgar Popp in 1960. But Popp retorts, "We had [like today] five or six pastors back in 1960. We had synod conventions every year with 30 to 40 delegates from all the congregations." Deutsch first called a convention in 1995.

And just last year Popp uncovered the constitution of 1951. But Deutsch says, "If the constitution's existence was unknown, that was my predecessor's fault. Every parish that worked properly knew of this constitution." Yet no one possessed it before last year.


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